Phoney Missoni

By Alexander Hope-Rollinson 

An Oxford trader has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for stocking over 800 items of counterfeit clothing.

Matthew Croxson set up Labels 4 Less in the former Borders bookstore in Magdalen Street before it became a Tesco.

He was convicted after a trial in April of seven trademark offences in relation to fake G-Star, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Ed Hardy and Ecko Unltd T-shirts and tops.

At the time, Judge Anthony King said: “This was a substantial matter and is going to be treated out of the league of the usual market trader passing off goods that aren’t properly trademarked.”

But the manager of the shop, Matthew Brooks, 38, from Westcliffon-Sea, Essex, was cleared of eight charges after jurors could not reach verdicts.

Trading standards officers raided the store in April 2010 after a counterfeit item was discovered in a test purchase.

Prosecutor Tim Boswell said: “It sounds too good to be true. It turns out it was too good to be true. The items were found to be counterfeit.”

Anu Prashar, Team Leader and prosecutor for Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, said: “Trading Standards is pleased with the sentence which reflects the gravity of the crime committed by Mr Croxson. Many people may have bought clothing from his shop in good faith, thinking they have got the genuine article, only to find they have a poor quality copy.

“Mr Croxson is a repeat offender and clearly has not learnt from his previous fines.”

In 2000, 2001 and 2002 Mr Croxson was fined for similar offences totalling £13,050 and ordered to pay a total of £12,500 prosecution costs.

Conservative councillor Judith Heathcoat said: “The message is simple – traders who operate illegally could face prosecution. Selling counterfeit clothing damages the reputation of the trademark holders, the local economy and legitimate businesses and also the consumer who may have bought the item in good faith.”